Nothing to Lose (1997) — A most unlikely buddy crime caper

“Boy, did you pick the wrong guy on the wrong day.”

Justin’s rating: The Louisville Hotfoot

Justin’s review: What would you do if you lost everything you had — wife, job, your life — in the space of one day? What if you had that ironclad feeling of temporary insanity that would enable you to not give a flying hoot about anything? What if you were the freakishly tall Tim Robbins in the movie Nothing To Lose?

There’s honestly nothing to expect from this comedy premise. Nick (Robbins) has everything in life, when he comes home to find his wife in bed with his disgusting boss. With NOTHING TO LOSE, he wanders around the city and ends up being mugged by T. Paul (Martin Lawrence), who in turn is hijacked by Nick. Nick, the sane white guy, has gone a bit loopy. T, the stereotypical black thief, turns out to be the stereotypical black thief with a heart of gold and an engineering degree.

Together, the two embark on a journey that explores the human spirit. With Martin Lawrence, you know that this metaphysical journey will be laced with repetitions of the F-word. Nick tries to teach T to be more intelligent in his robberies, while T tries to teach Nick to understand that there are logical and racial reasons why people have to resort to mugging. Heck, it’s practically a patriotic duty, this film points out!

So there’s nothing to expect from this crime caper/mismatched buddy flick, right? We’ve seen this type of thing a million times before, and plus Martin Lawrence isn’t entertaining eight flicks out of nine. But something actually works in Nothing To Lose. Perhaps it is that there is a presence of comedy, the type that can be classified next to “funny” and under “memorable.” Not to be confused with the types of comedy that are morbidly depressing and extremely dull. Even after multiple viewings, I still get a deep belly laugh from Nick coming up with ways to flip off the security camera and his revenge on a very Happy statue.

Lots of little things make Nothing to Lose a comfy sit in your fully-decked lazyboy. Robbins and Lawrence make good repartee, mocking each other’s lives and differences with wild abandon. The two criminals who get confused with Nick and T are terrific as they are sinister and wily (and they listen to classical music, how’s that for culture?). The final crime caper is a writhing bucket of craziness, and a good handbook for future criminals. The exchange between the pair and an old hardware store owner about which one of them was scarier is practically priceless. Plus, there is just a lot of fascination of seeing what a man will do when he has… NOTHING TO LOSE. Coming soon to a theater near you. Or my VCR and a bucket of KFC.

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